Cybersecurity-breach stories are so common lately, the headlines no longer shock. But don’t let familiarity breed contempt. In 2017, you can’t afford to grow complacent about Internet safety. As the following examples demonstrate, it’s crucial to guard your online data:
“Hacking actions at nuclear facilities targeted traditional vectors like websites, emails and Microsoft Word documents that were infected as the method for cyberattacks. It needs to be back to basics of ‘security blocking and tackling’ for many, and consideration of even traditional cyber threats.”
“The FBI and Homeland Security issued a new warning to American energy companies about potential cyberattacks on nuclear facilities…Homeland security officials say the hackers penetrated the ‘business’ side of the nuclear facility.”
“A wave of ransomware attacks spread like wildfire (in June). Many Microsoft Windows-based computers—specifically, ones not protected against a vulnerability in a Microsoft messaging protocol…began seizing up worldwide, locking employees out of their desktops, and displaying ransom notes…It’s still not clear what the initial attack vector was. But once inside, the worm could spread across computer networks.”
A hacker’s job is to crack computer passwords to access sensitive files and data. Sounds like a strange job. Once they obtain the password, they can do malicious things to the information stored in an account. Or worse, they may be able to harm the accounts of other people who share computer networks. So, the argument— “I don’t need a secure password because I don’t store important information in my account”— won’t fly. Passwords are usually the weakest security link within an organization’s network. Don’t fall victim to cybercrime. I keep my Twitter account @RJtheFiredog safe by routinely change the password. Create a secure password:
- Don’t use dictionary or foreign words, names, doubled names or first/last names and initials.
- Don’t use simple transformations of words (7eleven, seven11, etc.) or any alphabet or keyboard sequence (backwards or forwards).
- Don’t use your user ID in any form (as-is, reversed, capitalized, doubled, etc.).
- Don’t reuse old passwords. Instead, choose a completely new password every time you change it. This one is tough for me because I love using and reusing Woof007. Don’t consider using short words (less than 8 characters), phone numbers, birth dates, social security numbers or numbers substituted for letters (like a zero instead of the letter O).
- Don’t use ‘password’ as your password. (Believe it or not, statistics show that up to 70% of all user-passwords are the word ‘password.) Come on, People!
- Don’t tape the password under the keyboard or anywhere else on the computer, the computer’s desk or in an unlocked file cabinet. Mischievous people will look for your password in these places like a thief looks for a key under the front doormat.
- Choose a phrase, and then use the first letters (‘A stitch in time saves nine’ would be ‘asits9’).
- Use a password that has at least two alphabetic characters (a-z, A-Z) and at least one numeric (0-9) or special (punctuation) character. Always use a mixture of upper- and lowercase characters.
- Choose a password that is easy to remember, so you don’t have to write it down. That’s why I like Woof007!
- Select a password that you can quickly type. This keeps people from discovering your password by watching you type it. Is it just me or does it seem impossible to accomplish every bullet point on this list?
- Change your password often—at least once every three months.
- Implement a password-protected screen saver in case you must leave your workstation without first logging off. When possible, log off or lock your workstation by using CTRL + ALT + DEL.
Since smartphone saturation in the United States surpassed 80 percent of the population in 2016, hackers are targeting secure data stored on handheld devices. Keep your data safe:
- Malicious people could gain physical access to your smartphone or tablet. Malicious people are rude. Someone has to say it! Protect your device with a password and run apps such as Android Lost or Find My iPhone to help recover lost or stolen smartphones.
- Malicious emails and text messages can infect your smartphone with malware. To prevent this, periodically run anti-virus software on your device.
- The camera and microphone on your smartphone can be remotely activated. Do not take a smartphone near classified information, and remove the battery before discussing sensitive information. I have an iPaw, so the battery can’t be removed.
- Wireless networks may be insecure and subject to monitoring. Use VPN when accessing wireless networks and do not access sensitive information over shared wireless networks. Turn off Bluetooth when you are not using it, to prevent hackers from exploiting your device.
About Allied Universal
Remember, cybersecurity and crime prevention are everyone’s responsibility. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.